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Skills for CV: The importance of extracurricular activities

You may have heard that extracurricular activities at university are an important part of your university education. Since your first days at university, you have probably been bombarded with stories about how everyone who is successful after graduation did an extracurricular activity. From captain of the universities football team and the student body president and built homes for the poor in Tanzania. But do extracurricular activities have to be so overwhelming?


There is so much pressure on students to perform well in their exams and attain high grades (all while attending lectures with a hangover). This, by all means, is not wrong – attaining high grades, not going to lectures with a hangover! The problem comes when students have no life outside their lecture halls and the library…. I mean student bars. If you don’t understand the importance of extracurricular activities at university, then your world at university revolves around books. With no room for development this is the first step in a bad direction when job searching. Time to change that.

What are extracurricular activities?

Let’s get our definitions right. The word “extracurricular” is broken down into roots for a literal explanation. The word “extra” means “outside” and “curricular” refers to all of the work that you do in your lectures and seminars. So extracurricular activities are basically activities you do outside of class.

Your university years are the best opportunities you will ever get to explore new activities, try different things and see what you’re passionate about. Extracurricular activities are just as important as your studies. They both complement each other to develop you to be a well-rounded student ready for life after graduation. With more social skills than you know what to do with, your education goes beyond the four walls of your lecture halls. University is about more than just books and dusty old lecturers. It’s about learning and developing yourself and your skills.  

Extracurricular activities at university can include a wide range of activities, including:

Sports;  Which includes playing on a university sport team or even a team outside of your university.

Community Service; Which includes any sort of volunteer work, either in your community, on a national scale or abroad!

Employment; Including any jobs, placements or internships you do during your studies.

Arts; Which can include visual arts, performing arts, comedy, culinary arts – really this list is almost endless.

Hobbies; Such as blogging, a film club, hiking, Rubik’s Cube Competition or chess club (no judgement… it’s still an extra-curricular activity).

Academic activities; Such as a math or science club or competitions, research or writing.


Benefits of doing an extracurricular activity

Learn new and useful skills

Those university students that take on extracurricular activities have the benefit of learning new and useful skills. These skills include teamwork, better social skills and critical thinking. All skills that are important and good to mention on your resume. It’s normal that students who participate in extracurricular activities at university have better leadership skills and have learnt how to best relate with their peers. This is why recruiters and employers look for graduates who have experience in participating in extracurriculars.

More opportunities

For university students, the benefit of engaging in an extracurricular activity is that it boosts your chances of getting into a graduate job, graduate scheme or job after university. Most employers want to know more about your achievements and examples on what you can offer apart from academics. This is where an extracurricular activity comes in handy to write down in your resume. When looking for jobs on you might find that you can break the ice with employers and recruiters by engaging on mutual ground and talking about hobbies and shared interests. So all them years figure skating are starting to pay off once you and your boss hit the ice to discuss the T&Cs of your work conditions.

As a university student the aim of your education should be an all-round development in all aspects of your studies. Having an extracurricular activity is similar to having a degree. It is something you will have for life and something you can develop upon as you progress throughout your career. The exposure an extracurricular activity gives you could provide an insight to the type of job, sector or organisation you might want to work for. In some cases an extracurricular activity could lead to a full time job!

Which other things are important to mention in your cv?

Besides mentioning extra curricular activities on your cv, it can also be beneficial to mention your experience with working in a team. Within a lot of companies, working in a team on projects is a standard practice. Therefore, having experience with teamwork is being considered as highly important. For more information, read the guide on the benefits of mentioning teamwork skills on your cv.

How do I participate in a curricular activity?

Extracurricular activities include a very wide range of activities. Varying from sports, hobbies, academic and so on. Anyone can participate in a certain extracurricular activity through multiple institutions such as your university, job, sports team and more. Want to know more about various forms of extracurricular activities? Then read about what extracurricular activities are.

How do I write a perfect cv in general?

Besides the tips we have provided within this specific article, there are a few general rules and guidelines which will help you write the perfect cv. Things such as what to mention where, the lay-out, format and so on are all of high importance when it comes to writing the perfect cv. If you want more information on this topic, read the guide on 5 tips to writing the perfect cv.